Two PIA pilots confirmed to have contracted coronavirus, shifted to Lahore hospital: Rashid
Pakistan tightens protocols for coronavirus screening at airports
Statesman Report
LAHORE: Two pilots of the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) that recently flew back from Canada have been confirmed to have contracted the novel coronavirus and shifted to a private in Lahore for treatment, according to Punjab Minister for Health Yasmin Rashid.
"The coronavirus tests of two PIA pilots and three other members of the crew on a flight that recently flew back from Canada were carried out and the two pilots have tested positive for the virus," Rashid told the media on Monday morning.
"The two pilots have been shifted to a private hospital in Lahore for treatment where their condition is getting better. The other three crew members have been told to self-isolate themselves in line with international protocols on the virus," Rashid added.
Pakistani aviation authorities on Sunday introduced modified Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for airports at international arrivals for better control of the spread of coronavirus.
The SOPs shall be applicable on all passengers and flight crew with immediate effect, says a press release issued by Aviation Division.
As per SOPs, upon arrival by international flights, everyone will be screened as per practice. The swab sample shall not, however, be collected at the airport.
All passengers and flight crew shall be quarantined for 24 hours at a location decided by the authorities. After 24 hours, a swab sample shall be collected for the test at the designated facility. Anyone with a positive test result shall be retained at the quarantine or other relevant location.
Those with negative test result shall be allowed to leave with strict instructions and guidance for home quarantine.
Data of all the passengers and flight crew with their mobile numbers will be kept for record and further follow up.
PIA suspends operations from Karachi
The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) on Sunday suspended its operations from Karachi, rejecting reports that its pilots from a flight from Britain had contracted the coronavirus.
In a statement, the national carrier clarified its views on quarantining its aviation staff in Karachi. "The PIA is strictly abiding by the instructions issued by the Government of Pakistan," its spokesperson Abdullah Khan said.
"The instructions include measures related to disinfecting the airplane as well as the crew's health and safety," Khan added, noting that the federal government's instructions were being followed at all airports in the country.
The incident that took place at Karachi airport was "against the instructions issued by the Government of Pakistan on aviation staff", he said, adding that three hours prior to the plane with no passengers was scheduled to arrive from London, all officials had been informed.
However, the spokesperson stressed that despite instructions, the Sindh health department's officials insisted on forcefully quarantining the pilots.
PIA Chief Executive Air Marshal Arshad Malik has expressed serious concerns over the actions contrary to the federal government's instructions, he added.